WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump has made his son-in-law Jared Kushner the de facto project manager for constructing his border wall, frustrated with a lack of progress over one of his top priorities as he heads into a tough reelection campaign, according to current and former administration officials.
Kushner convenes biweekly meetings in the West Wing, where he questions an array of government officials about progress on the wall, including updates on contractor data, precisely where it will be built and how funding is being spent. He also shares and explains the president's demands with the group, according to the officials familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal White House deliberations.
The president's son-in-law and senior adviser is pressing U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expedite the process of taking over private land needed for the project as the government seeks to meet Trump's goal of erecting 450 miles of barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border by the end of 2020. More than 800 filings to seize private property will need to be made in the coming months if the government is going to succeed, officials aid.
Kushner has told other West Wing officials he is in charge of the wall, according to aides, and that it is paramount to Trump that at least 400 miles be built by Election Day.
"The point is to get as much built in the next year so, so the president can say in the face of intense, almost demented opposition he has made reasonable progress," said Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington think tank that seeks to restrict immigration and supports many of Trump's policies.
Trump campaigned on a promise to construct a wall along the southern border and to make Mexico pay for the...